My TED Talk on Addiction: How to Quit Smoking for Good

Nasia Davos Ted Talk Speaker 846x761 My TED Talk on Addiction: How to Quit Smoking for Good

The TED venue is choke-full. The event has started. I’m sitting on my chair, waiting.

Am I the next speaker, or the one after? I don’t really know, I’ve lost track of time.

My heart is racing. It’s safe to assume that I was nervous.

Suddenly, The lights are getting dim. The crowd is clapping.

I hear my name.Nasia, you are next”.

In those split seconds, I am repeating to myself” “You are greater than your addiction, you are greater than your addiction, you are greater than your addiction”. (I will tell you why in a bit.)

The more I say it, the stronger I feel.

My fear becomes excitement.

I stand up.

My feet start walking. My mind is stuck on “You are greater than your addiction”.

Before I know it, I am on the stage.

I can’t wait to show every smoker how they can break free from this addiction.

How? The rest is in this video below:

TED Talk on How to Beat Nicotine Addiction

So why was I saying “You are greater than your addiction” ?

Well, that’s my favorite sentence of this 16-minute TED talk. Because it sums up everything I stand for: That all of us can do anything we want in life.

That we are greater than our problems.

That there is always a way to achieve what seems impossible.

After all, 5 years ago when I started creating, what became for many, a life-changing quit smoking method… I couldn’t imagine I would present it in a TEDx talk.

But before I explain why watching this quit smoking video now will fast-track your journey, let’s pause to go through a brief background.

About TED Talks

TED was founded in 1984 by Richard Saul Wurman, as a small, Silicon Valley annual gathering.

Although at first, TED focused on Technology, Entertainment, Design, today it covers various topics of “ideas worth spreading”.

I first heard of TED a few years ago, when someone sent me Tony Robbins’ powerful talk about what drives our behaviors and how we can change them. Since then I have been a “TED-worm”.

To cut my long story short, I was invited to do a TEDx talk about the 4 quit smoking stages of the CBQ method.

The CBQ is the method we have created and use in Smoking Cessation Formula and the Breathe Life Program.

This method shows you how to quit smoking naturally.

Without feeling stress.

Without willpower.

And without gaining weight.


By removing your desire or need to smoke BEFORE you actually smoke your last cigarette.

Despite what you may have heard, becoming smoke-free doesn’t have to be painful.

If you are looking for an easy way to quit smoking naturally click here to request access to the exclusive video of the 4 quit smoking stages. 

If you have watched the quit smoking TED talk, you probably know what the 4 stages are. In this updated video you will learn more about each stage and get 4 exercises to get you started.

All you need to do is enter your name and email address.

Get the exclusive video of the 4 stages now.

It is free, and you will love it! (Plus, there is a surprise waiting for you at the end of the video.)

Ok so here are some of the things you will hear in this TED talk “How to Grow to A Happy Non-Smoker”:

  • The 4 stages you have to go through so you can start disliking smoking without effort.
  • How to easily replace the mental high your brain gets from smoking so you can feel happy while quitting
  • What’s the mistake you most likely do every time you decide to stop smoking
  • 3 simple steps to stop feeling like a smoker, even if you’ve been smoking for all your life
  • How your thoughts can affect your body without you realizing it
  • Why you need to find things to do instead of smoking – before you quit.
  • Why thinking about NOT smoking makes you wanna smoke more (or else the Pink Elephant Principle)
Screen Shot 2016 07 03 at 14.40.51 1024x722 My TED Talk on Addiction: How to Quit Smoking for Good

The Pink Elephant Principle on TEDx

  • A simple, powerful exercise to overcome cigarette cravings, food cravings and anxious, negative thinking
  • The one thing that will keep you away from cigarettes after you quit
  • …..and so much more

Click here to watch my TED talk on how to overcome the smoking addiction.

Last thing. Many of you emailed me asking me for the transcript of this TED talk.

So here it is:

TED Talk on Addiction Video Transcript

How to Grow to a Happy Non-Smoker

It was a cloudy Saturday afternoon and I was about to leave my office when suddenly, my bell rings. I open the door and I see a colorful well-dressed lady- really classy.

Melissa, who is a single mother of two and a very successful lawyer, came to me desperate to quit smoking. By the time we met, she had been smoking for 36 years up to 2 and a half packs a day… and she had developed lung cancer, because of smoking.

She was on the list for a transplant, but her doctors wouldn’t operate on her because she was still smoking. And Melisa had tried to quit with every method out there, from nicotine gums and patches to smoking pills and even vaping. But she couldn’t stay away from her cigarettes. Every time she managed to quit for a few weeks, she fell into depression, gained weight and even had suicidal thoughts.

At this point, you might say: “how is it possible to have a terminal disease because of smoking and not quit?”

And let me tell you, Melissa was wondering too. In our first conversation, she told me at least 3 times: “I know that every cigarette I smoke brings me closer to death. I don’t want to die, but I still smoke. What’s wrong with me?”

So, you understand that being in that position, Melissa was afraid of dying, and on top of that, she felt guilty for smoking. But she kept on smoking.


Smoking activates the reward areas of your brain, like the nucleus accumbens, that cause you to release feel-good chemicals, like dopamine. So you smoke, again and again to replicate the pleasurable effects of dopamine.

It is not the nicotine that makes smoking really addictive. It’s the instant change it brings to your emotional state.

So, I asked Melissa: “What do you need to feel in your life right now?” At first, her face was clouded, she was puzzled. And then she raised her head and looked at me like someone had turned on a switch in her brain.

She told me: Certainty. And you could see it in her face; her eyes were wide open, she couldn’t believe what she had said.

You see, in the face of the uncertainty of death, smoking was offering her a sense of certainty, because she knew she could get an instant fix of pleasure at any time.

And ALL smokers smoke either to boost a good emotional state or to escape from a bad one.

When you are stressed, you smoke to relax and feel better. That’s an escape. When you are having a drink, you smoke to enjoy your drink even more. That’s a boost.

In any case, the motive for smoking is to feel good. In fact, that’s what all self-destructive behaviors have in common. They are driven by emotions. When you repeatedly do something that hurts you is not because you are insane. It’s because it gives you an immediate emotional reward. That’s why Melisa’s need for pleasure was greater than her need to survive.

So, I thought, if a smoker can feel the same pleasure without smoking, then quitting will be easy.

So, the question is: how can we stimulate this mental high in non-destructive ways?

Professor Martha Burns found that learning something new and exciting activates the same reward areas of the brain as do drugs and gambling.

When you have an “aha” moment, when you hear something inspirational, when you meet someone new or when you learn something new about yourself- when your consciousness expands in general – your brain releases dopamine and you feel happy.

And the most consistent way to feel happy and excited when quitting smoking, is by learning something new about yourself while quitting smoking. So, it is through self-development that we can stimulate dopamine in our brain, so we can, literally, outgrow our addictions.

And after digging deep and modeling the psychology of addiction, me and my team in the Smoking Cessation Formula, found the exact mental and behavioral stages that take you through the spectrum of change and cause this mental high of self-development. These stages are the 4C’s (of the CBQ method).

TED Talk Addiction Part 2

But I’m going to come back to stage C1 in the end because it’s the most important one. And people tend to forget this stage, so they fail – every time.

So, what is the second C?

The source of every transformation is your personal potential.

But no transformation can be made if your potential remains… potential.

So, in this stage, you have to cultivate your potential so that you can start growing into a non-smoker.

And your potential is the sum of your identity, your emotions, and your beliefs.

You can’t grow if you don’t tackle all 3 elements.

Think about it; if you want to change your body and lose 20 pounds, you first have to be able to see the slimmer version of you and identify with it.

Then this slimmer version of you has to make you feel good.

And third, you have to believe that you can do it.

I remember I asked Melisa, do you want to quit smoking? She said yes, of course! Then I paused, I looked at her, and I asked her: do you believe you can quit smoking? And she kept staring at me.

Because, desire manifest in words- beliefs manifest in behavior.  The way you behave around smokers, the way you behave around cigarettes when you are alone, all depend on whether or not you believe you can become a non-smoker.

So, before you quit, you have to be able to see yourself as a non-smoker,

Then the idea of being a non-smoker has to make you feel good,

And most importantly, you have to believe that quitting is possible. Even more, you have to believe that YOU specifically can quit.

Now the next stage, C3, is where you eliminate your smoking behavior. And in order to do that, you have to change your smoking pattern.

Most smokers think that all they have to do to quit is resist cigarettes with willpower until the desire to smoke fades away. But that’s the hard way to quit.

Because your smoking behavior, which is the action of taking a cigarette, putting it in your mouth and lighting it up, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Every cigarette you light up is proceeded by your thought of smoking and your emotional state.

Our thoughts affect our emotions, and our emotions affect our behaviors.

For example, if someone thinks of themselves as weak, they will feel weak, and if they feel weak, they will show weakness in their behavior.

Or… Someone who thinks of themselves as attractive, they will feel attractive, and when you feel attractive, you behave differently, you hold yourself differently, you speak differently.

The same way, having positive thoughts while smoking like: “I feel good now, or I enjoy this cigarette”, leads to positive emotions about smoking and positive emotions about smoking, reinforce your smoking behavior.

So, you will stop picking up a cigarette, only when you change how you feel while smoking. And to do that, you first have to change what your mind thinks while smoking.

So, let’s see what happens inside the smoker’s mind, during a craving.

When you’re trying to quit, you have an internal dialogue that goes something like that:

– “I want a cigarette.”

– “Don’t smoke.”

– “But I want a cigarette.”

– “You can’t have a cigarette. Don’t do it.”

While having an internal dialogue like that, 3 things happen:

  1. The image that preoccupies your mind is that of a cigarette.
  2. Your thoughts begin and end with the word cigarette.

So, you will definitely…

  1. Feel deprived and suffer during a craving, if all you think about is that you can’t have that cigarette.

And if you keep saying to yourself: “don’t smoke”, well that’s a problem, because your mind, or better, your unconscious mind cannot process negatives. Let me explain that thought. Actually, let’s do an experiment together!

So now I want you NOT to think of a pink elephant.

No matter what you think do NOT think of a pink elephant

No matter what you do NOT think of a pink elephant

Do NOT think of a pink elephant.

What were you thinking?

Of a pink elephant!

You see, your mind cannot take negative orders.

I didn’t write anything, and I didn’t show you any picture of a pink elephant, because I wanted you to see how powerful your thoughts can be, even without visual stimulation.

But in case you were wondering, that’s how a pink elephant would look like.

And the pink elephant principle applies to everything.

For instance, what happens when you tell a kid: “Don’t go there” or “Don’t do this?”

They usually, if not always, do the opposite.

Because this is how you create in their mind the urgency to disobey.

And you do the same thing to yourself when you want to smoke, and you say: “Don’t smoke” or “I can’t smoke!”.

So, to get to my point, you create a feeling of urgency that is overwhelming.

You see nothing else, you think of nothing, and you want nothing else other than smoking.

So how do you change your thinking during a craving?

The battery that charges our internal dialogue is the words we use.

The words create images; the words create thoughts, and the words ultimately define, how your mind and body will experience the craving.

Imagine dragging your fingernails across a chalkboard.

Did you get the chills?

You didn’t touch a chalkboard, yet your thoughts affected your body.

The same way, when you say the word cigarette in your inner talk, all your mental processes will revolve around cigarettes, so you physically experience the craving as more intense.

So, what you have to do, is replace the word cigarette with another one.

What works, is replacing the word cigarette with “air”. So instead of thinking “I want a cigarette” think “I want air”, “I need air”, “Give me some air”.

You are not going to picture, feel and do the same things if you use the word “cigarette” and “air”. So, you will experience your craving in a completely different way. So, next time you have a craving, say- and say it out loud! “I want air, freedom, popcorn”. – Seriously – Use any word or phrase that resonates with you. For example, Melissa used the names of her children.

And the more you practice your craving word, the more vividly and effortlessly it will come to your mind the next time. So, I encourage you to try it, because If you know, you can control your cravings for a cigarette, you will quit smoking. And you can use this technique to overcome food cravings, alcohol cravings, and negative thinking.

Now, the next stage determines if you will relapse.

Have you ever learned a new skill – like a foreign language, a musical instrument, or a card game …? – and as the time passed without practicing that skill… you totally forgot it?

If that has happened to you, is because you didn’t condition that skill. Conditioning something you have learned is as important as learning it.

So, the fourth C is Condition your smoke-free life.

Because becoming a non-smoker is like any skill; you first have to learn it, and then you have to condition it. That’s how you can forget your smoking pattern.

And the best way to forget is to replace.

So, what you have to do this time, is replace smoking altogether with a new beneficial and healthy habit. A Habit, that will help you satisfy the same emotional needs that you used to meet by smoking.

Melissa chose to replace smoking with journalism. And the process of learning and developing a new skill helped her brain find new means to release dopamine. And it still does. So that’s how Melisa quit, had a successful surgery and remains a happy non-smoker up to this day.

But we have one thing left.

I told you I’m going to leave this until the end because all of the previous stages wouldn’t mean as much without this.

So before doing Anything else, you have to Choose to quit.

Everything starts with a decision. Everything you have ever done that has made the person you are today, is because you made a decision- or failed to make one.

But even not making a decision about how you want your health and your life to be in the future, then this is a decision too right?

The mistake Melissa was making was putting down the facts, and then expecting to feel motivated to quit because it’s the logical thing to do. But her logic could not overpower the emotional connection she had with smoking.

Smoking is an emotional behavior so the decision to quit should also be emotional. And it was when Melisa focused only on how her death would affect her children, that she was able to get leverage on herself and choose to change.

And you; have you ever said, about anything: “That’s it! I’ve had enough! This has to change!”

In your family, in your relationships, in your career, anywhere.

And immediately you stepped up and did things you never thought you could.

You see the problem is not that you are too weak, too stuck or too addicted.

The problem is that you have never used your emotions to take a real firm decision to change.

And If you choose, then cultivate, change and then condition, you will see yourself transforming before your eyes.

I’m telling you this, because no matter where you live, what lifestyle you have, or how long you’ve been smoking, overeating, drinking or holding your true self back in any way, the 4c’s self-development system works, because the psychology of addiction works under the same principles for all humans.

And YOU are greater than your addiction.

The TED talk along with the exclusive video of the 4 stages are the only quit smoking videos you need to quit smoking for good.

Before you go, remember to share this post so we can reach out to anyone who needs to remember that they too, are greater than their addiction!

About the Author
 My TED Talk on Addiction: How to Quit Smoking for Good

About Nasia Davos

Nasia is an ex-smoker, published author, TEDx speaker, Certified NLP Life Coach and Practitioner with a BSc in Psychology and an MA in Psychoanalysis. She is a Smoking Cessation Practitioner certified by UK’s National Center for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) and member of the Red Cross. Her extensive research on Smoking Cessation has helped thousands of lifetime smokers quit easily and turn their lives around.